Mahendra Kapoor was born in Amritsar, city in Punjab. Soon he moved to Mumbai – A city of Dreams. He always considered Mohammad Rafi as his guru and cited many time that he was the best singer to be ever born, considered him his mentor, he started learning classical music under classical singers like Pt. Hussanlal, Pt. Jagannath Bua, Ustad Niaz Ahmed Khan, Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan and Pt.Tulsidaas Sharma.
Kapoor created a style of his own molded largely on Rafi. Kapoor had a very large vocal range, and he is sometimes known as The Vibrant Voice of India. He was the first Indian playback singer to record music in English. He was asked by the group Boney M to sing their songs in Hindi with Musarat from Pakistan. Mahendra Kapoor sang the most iconic patriotic song of India, ‘’Mere Desh ki Dharti’’
Mahendra Kapoor got married Pravinlata Kapoor and had a son and three Daughters.
Mahendra Kapoor and Mohammad Rafi
Mahendra was around 13 when he heard the Mohammed Rafi number ‘’Yahan badla wafa ka – Jugnu,1947 and was totally mesmerized by the singer. Mahendra somehow found out Rafi saab’s house in Bhendi Bazaar and reached there even though it was a riot-affected area post-Partition. Winning the Metro Murphy All-India singing competition (1957) made it easier for Mahendra to make inroads in Bollywood. Rafi saab helped him perfect the nuances. He sang the non-film song
Ilahi Koi Tamanna Nahi
He said Mahendra, to look at the stars and the moon. It’s such a beautiful night. The creator of so much beauty has no ghamand (pride). Then how can we, who’ve just sung a few songs, pride on ourselves? I’ll perform namaz, you do pooja and let’s thank the Lord.
And the two lost themselves in prayer. Mahendra would never let go of any opportunity to show his gratitude towards Rafi. In 1979, a Mahendra Kapoor night was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London where Rafi’s sons, Khalid and Sayyed, happened to be present.
When Mahendra came to know of it, he asked the organizers to get him two garlands, something impossible at that hour. They were, however, bought from a temple in the vicinity. Then, he called the boys on stage, garlanded them, touched their feet and said, ‘I am not touching your feet, I am touching the feet of my guru who’s sitting in Mumbai!’ The audience was moved. Every singer has been influenced by another but no one acknowledges it. Surprisingly, Rafi and Mahendra never sang together (except in Aadmi, 1968).Rafi would say, ‘Log hum mein kushti ladayenge (people will pitch us against each other). We are brothers, not rivals The ’70s saw a paradigm shift in film music with the combination of Kishore Kumar and RD Burman taking over. It was a highly insecure phase for all singers, not only Kapoor.
The Indian and earthy style of singing popularized by singers like Talat saab, Rafi saab, Mukeshji and Mahendra Kapoor gave way to a western style. The instruments changed completely. That era troubled dad. Left, right and center it was only Kishore Kumar.
There was only one song of Rafi Saab and Mahendra Saab
The Burning Hand Story of Raj Kapoor for Mahendra Kapoor.
Mahendra Kapoor told his family another incident when he went with Raj Kapoor for a show in Tashkent, in Russia. Rajsaab asked him whether he would play the harmonium when he sang his songs.
My father agreed, so as decided, my father played the harmonium and Rajsaab sang his songs. People applauded, Rajsaab was a demi-god in Russia.
The song ‘’Neele Gagan Ke Tale’’ was a huge hit in Russia. He asked someone to translate the song into Russian language and memorised it. After Rajsaab left the stage, Kapoor started singing ‘’Neele Gagan Ke Tale’’ in Russian. People went mad, and they began calling out my Mahendra Kapoor’s name and cheering for him. Rajsaab heard the noise and wanted to see who was so popular. On seeing Mahendra Kapoor on the stage, he said, “Sirf ek Kapoor he doosre Kapoor ko maat de sakta hai” (Only one Kapoor can defeat another Kapoor). Rajsaab was very happy with my Mahendra Kapoor.
While returning from Tashkent, he said, ‘Mahendra, I can’t give you the songs pictured on me as Mukesh sings my songs, you know that.’ Mahendra Kapoor said, ‘I know it and I don’t want them. Mukesh is a good friend.’ Rajsaab said, ‘There are second heroes in my films for whom you can sing. I can give you those songs. Henceforth, all my second hero songs, only you will sing.’ My father pulled his leg a bit. ‘Paaji, you are such a big man, once you reach India, you will forget you ever told me this.’ Rajsaab said, ‘Mahendra, you think like this of me?’ He then took the cigarette he was smoking and burnt his hand and said, ‘This mark will remain on my hand to remind me that I have to give you songs.’ When they came back, Rajsaab gave him the songs –
Woh Gaana Gaye Ga from Sangam
Mahendra Kapoor’s debut as a playback singer in V. Shantaram’s Navrang in 1958, singing ‘’Aadha Hain Chandrama Raat Aadhi’’
under the musical direction of C.Ramchandra. Kapoor sung in a large number of Indian languages, and is the playback singer who has performed in the largest number of in Gujarati, Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Marathi movies. In Marathi he was very popular for being the voice of Dada Kondke in all his movies. In spite of being associated with Dada Kondke’s colloquial style his singing for Marathi movies was not limited to Dada Kondke’s movies only.
Chalo ek baar (Gumrah).
Tum agar Saath dene ka wada karo (Hamraaz)
Aap ke Paas (Kaajal)
Roop ni Rangeli
Chalo ne Ramiye
Tara Dukh Ne Khankheri naakh
Jekara Charanwa Men
Diyawa Ke Sange
Hain Jaan toh Pyaar
Ki Puchhde O Haal Fakiran Da
Chhara Sarpanch Banya
Ek Kudi Punjabi Shava
Mahendra Kapoor is one of the golden era singers. He remained as one of the most popular singers in Bollywood who has given his voice to almost all of the popular heroes and leading well-known actors. For Punjabi movies he has given his voice to Varendra, Mehar Mittal, Prem Nath and many more. He has sung in almost every language in India, and has sung & covered almost every verity of songs such as Patriotic, Romantic, Bhajans, Qawwalis, Naats, & the TV Serial “MAHABHARAT” title song has been the umpteenth feather in his already crowned cap.
Mahendra Kapoor had collaborated with many artists like Mohammed Rafi for most of the songs in his career.
Asha Bhosle for Aadha Hain Chandrama Raat Aadhi, Are Jaa Re Hat Natkhat Aya Holi, Chehra Chupa Liya Hain, Ye Raat Ye Barsaat, Hum Jab Simatke Aapki Bahon Me Aagaye, Tujhko Mera Pyaar Pukare,
Lata Mangeshkar for Ye Kali Jab Talak Phool Banke, Tere Pyaar Ka Aasra, Mangal ki sewa, Teri Bindiyan Re
Padma Shri – India’4th highest civilian award. National Film Award For Best Playback Singer – Upkar 1968. Filmfare Awards for Best Playback Singer – Aur Nahi Bus Aur Nahi 1975. and Chalo Ek baar 1964 and Neele Gagan Ke Tale 1968.